Edit ModuleShow Tags

How Do I Help When My Child is Excluded?


Published:

Question: My 8-year-old daughter Eliana was devastated last year when valentine cards and gifts were flying around her classroom, and she only received one. She is already dreading the upcoming Valentine's Day, which may be a repetition of last year. Is there anything we can do to help?

Answer: We all take pleasure in the joys of Valentine's Day, but you remind us that some children experience this day painfully rather than pleasurably. Understanding the basis for your daughter's isolation on this day will provide the tools to help her.

Why children may not receive valentines

It's safe to assume the particular situation in which Eliana is not receiving valentines reflects a broader pattern. She may focus particularly on this day since it receives so much attention, but the reasons she does not receive valentine cards or gifts do not reside in Valentine's Day. What are some common reasons a child is shunned?

A child may be socially awkward, perhaps even slightly off-putting to friends. For example, a child may have trouble respecting others' space or say things other children find perplexing or even a bit odd. Children often pull back from a socially awkward child, not because they wish to hurt a child's feelings, but because something about the child makes them feel uncomfortable.

Some children are socially capable when they are in a comfortable situation, but may be shy and/or anxious and reluctant to readily engage in usual classroom social life. As a result, other children might not think about including them but are not actively shunning them.

When a child is unpleasant to others, either inadvertently or with awareness and intent, classmates just notice and care about how they themselves are being treated and likely do not understand that the unpleasant child may be suffering inside.

Bullying may be suspected when one or several children are harassing a child. Eliana is not receiving valentines from many children, so it is unlikely she is being bullied.

Listen and empathize

The first step is to hear Eliana out. Perhaps she will share her worries about how the day will go, her anticipated embarrassment or her gripes about her classmates. Simply acknowledging her feelings and pain will help her the most.

You may want to ease her pain by sharing that you had similar experiences (if that is the case) and that they did not last forever. Also consider pointing out that she is not the only child in the class who may be disappointed in her valentines, or remind her that she has many friends in the neighborhood. Offer these reassurances carefully and as a small part of your response because otherwise Eliana might feel as if you cannot tolerate or accept her painful feelings. Hugs and expressions of your wishes that things were different will be the most supportive ways to comfort her.

Address possible causes

Another way to help Eliana is more complex and emotionally difficult. If she is shy, socially awkward or acting in a negative or provocative way with her peers, she has some responsibility for her social situation. Each possible reason poses different challenges for her and you.

If your daughter is shy, we certainly do not want her to feel that there is anything wrong with being that way. There isn't. Yet the inescapable, no-fault reality is that her shyness affects how others respond to her. Gently, lovingly and gradually bringing this issue to her attention over time can provide her with the motivation and empowerment to reach out socially. Even if she cannot, or chooses not to make that great effort, she will better understand that others are not being mean, that she is not disliked or unlikeable, but that rather she is just not part of the social mix.

The situation is different for a child who aggravates friends. It's particularly important for that child to understand that she is provoking her isolation. Many children with this problem will reject this reality because they often have trouble accepting their role in producing such undesirable situations, and they often blame others.

Socially awkward children pose the greatest challenge for parents because they are often limited in their ability to change or even understand why they can't connect with others. Yet they also need to understand, over a long period of time and with careful discussion, that their abilities and social capacities are different than those of many children in the classroom. It is kinder to gradually introduce these children to their differences than to allow them to continue to suffer in confusion as the isolation and negativity from their peers continue over the years.

It is painful for loving parents to see their child being rejected. However, life is filled with experiences that don't go well, and childhood is the time to learn how to deal with pain and disappointment. With your help, Eliana will come through this stronger, more realistic and in a better position to face the coming years.  n

The Lucy Daniels Center is a nonprofit agency in Cary that promotes the health and well-being of children and families. To submit a question, please email editorial@carolinaparent.com. This month's question may be a composite or illustration of a parent's concerns.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Content

When Children Hear Horror Stories on the News

How do you nurture a children's confidence in a safe world even when they are exposed to disturbing news.

10 Hikes Kids Enjoy in the Triangle

Ready to spend some time outdoors with your family? You're bound to have fun at any of these kid-friendly hiking spots around the Triangle.

Turn Off the Tube

Young adults who watch a lot of TV and have low physical activity may have worse cognitive function when they reach middle age.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

July 2016

Take part in a family-friendly bike ride through Durham, Chatham and Orange counties to benefit Schoolhouse of Wonder. Register online.

Cost: Fees vary. Children under 12 ride free

Where:
New Hope Church Trailhead Park
2500 New Hope Church Rd
Cary, NC  27519
View map »


Sponsor: Schoolhouse of Wonder
Telephone: (919) 477-2116
Contact Name: Andrea Mastrobuono
Website »

More information

A girl with a disfiguring scar sets out from her home to seek healing and finds her true beauty along the way. See young people shine in this powerhouse piece of theater showcasing musical styles...

Cost: $10/ages 18 and younger, $15/adults

Where:
Paul Green Theatre
150 Country Club Rd.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Website »

More information

A half-boy/half-bat creature is discovered in a cave near Hope Falls, West Virginia. He joins a family and is taught to act like a “normal” boy. Can he find true love with Shelley, the...

Cost: $12/person

Where:
Raleigh Little Theatre
301 Pogue St.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Website »

More information

Help Crayons2Calculators kick off its month-long Fill That Bus school supply drive. Enjoy an evening of dinner and music featuring Bo Lankenau and Terry Wiley.  Take a donation of school...

Cost: Free

Where:
Blue Note Grill
709 Washington St
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Sponsor: Crayons2Calculators
Contact Name: Julie Marshall
Website »

More information

Enjoy a great movie and pre-show activities. Take lawn chairs and blankets. Pack a dinner or enjoy good eats from the local food trucks. Doors open at 8 p.m.

Cost: Free

Where:
RLT’s Louise “Scottie” Stephenson Amphitheatre
301 Pogue St.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Sponsor: Raleigh Little Theatre
Telephone: 919-821-4579
Contact Name: Charles Phaneuf
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
No Events

Take the family to a drop-in creative workshop. Create cyanotypes inspired by "White Water Nash" by Burk Uzzle, from the current exhibition "Burk Uzzle: Southern Landscapes. Ages...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
Nasher Museum of Art
2001 Campus Dr.
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Website »

More information

Everyone's favorite nanny, Mary Poppins, takes the stage this delightful adventure based on one of Disney's most popular movies. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $25-$92

Where:
Raleigh Memorial Auditorium, Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Telephone: 919-831-6491
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Take time out to spend with your little one as you crawl, explore and bounce in a safe environment exclusively for children ages 12 mos-3 yrs. Parents play free; admission is $5 per child....

Cost: $5/child

Where:
BounceU of Apex
3419 Apex Peakway
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Website »

More information

Enjoy the movie "Peanuts," a can of soda and a box of popcorn for only $5. A season pass for all ten movies is $25/person.

Cost: $5-$25

Where:
Palace Pointe
5050 Durham Rd.
Roxboro, NC  27574
View map »


Sponsor: Palace Pointe
Telephone: 336-598-5050 x114
Contact Name: Wendy Harrington
Website »

More information

Everyone's favorite nanny, Mary Poppins, takes the stage this delightful adventure based on one of Disney's most popular movies. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $25-$92

Where:
Raleigh Memorial Auditorium, Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Meet a staff member at the information desk to visit one of the museum galleries. Have a look around and listen to a history-related story. Ages 3 and older with adult.

Cost: Free

Where:
N.C. Museum of History
5 E. Edenton St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Take part in the Miracle Treat Day celebration. All Blizzard proceeds will benefit Duke Children’s Hospital to help ailing children in the Triangle receive the care and health treatments they...

Cost: Blizzard purchase

Where:
Dairy Queen
1008 Morrisville Carpenter Road
Morrisville , NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Triangle Dairy Queen
Telephone: 910-228-9922
Contact Name: Sarah Hattman
Website »

More information

Search for aquatic animals. Wear old shoes and be prepared to get wet. Ages 6-9. Register online. Choose class #189056.

Cost: $5/child

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
11408 Raven Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-996-6764
Website »

More information

Johanna leads preschoolers on a storytime adventure.

Cost: Free

Where:
Flyleaf Books
752 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Sponsor: Flyleaf Books
Telephone: 919-942-7373
Website »

More information

Everyone's favorite nanny, Mary Poppins, takes the stage this delightful adventure based on one of Disney's most popular movies. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $25-$92

Where:
Raleigh Memorial Auditorium, Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Enjoy an energetic, musical storytime with Amy Godfrey, who was a Durham County librarian for six years. Babka and challah will be served as...

Cost: Free

Where:
Levin JCC
1937 West Cornwallis Rd.
Durham, NC  27705
View map »


Website »

More information

Spend the morning searching every nook and cranny for all the interesting things at Lazy O Farm. Enjoy farm animals, a scavenger hunt, popcorn and a hayride around fields of hay, sweet potatoes and...

Cost: $5/person

Where:
Lazy O Farm
3583 Packing Plant Road
Smithfield, NC  27577
View map »


Sponsor: Lazy O Farm
Telephone: 919-934-1132
Contact Name: Tami Thompson
Website »

More information

A girl with a disfiguring scar sets out from her home to seek healing and finds her true beauty along the way. See young people shine in this powerhouse piece of theater showcasing musical styles...

Cost: $10/ages 18 and younger, $15/adults

Where:
Paul Green Theatre
150 Country Club Rd.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Website »

More information

Everyone's favorite nanny, Mary Poppins, takes the stage this delightful adventure based on one of Disney's most popular movies. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $25-$92

Where:
Raleigh Memorial Auditorium, Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Celebrate National Moth Week by helping to identify moths around Lake Crabtree. Learn about some of the many families of moths in North Carolina, and then check the park's moth...

Cost: $1/person

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Parkway
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Learn about dragonflies. Take a walk to see them flying over the pasture and big pond. Ages 6-9. Register online. Choose class #189041.

Cost: $5/child

Where:
Wilkerson Nature Preserve
11408 Raven Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-996-6764
Website »

More information

Kids ages 5-10 take part in a jam session inspired by the energizing and sweat-dripping fun of playing the drums. Using Ripstix, lightly weighted drumsticks engineered specifically for exercising,...

Cost: Free for the first class

Where:
reCharge Pilates and Barre
3515 Witherspoon Blvd.
Durham, NC  27707
View map »


Website »

More information

Without electricty during the 19th century, candles were one of the few sources of light. Try dipping one of your own.

Cost: $1/person

Where:
Historic Stagville
5828 Old Oxford Hwy
Durham, NC  27712
View map »


Sponsor: Historic Stagville
Telephone: 919-620-0120
Website »

More information

Students starting grades 1 to 8, preparing to study grade 1 math through Common Core Math I/Algebra 1, enjoy a free academic enrichment class. Gift bags, snacks and prizes included. Register by...

Cost: Free

Where:
Lifetime Learning Academy
620 Holly Springs Rd.
Holly Springs, NC  27540
View map »


Website »

More information

Everyone's favorite nanny, Mary Poppins, takes the stage this delightful adventure based on one of Disney's most popular movies. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $25-$92

Where:
Raleigh Memorial Auditorium, Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Explore Hemlock Bluffs as the sun sets. Register online.

Cost: $16/resident, $20/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

A girl with a disfiguring scar sets out from her home to seek healing and finds her true beauty along the way. See young people shine in this powerhouse piece of theater showcasing musical styles...

Cost: $10/ages 18 and younger, $15/adults

Where:
Paul Green Theatre
150 Country Club Rd.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Website »

More information

Everyone's favorite nanny, Mary Poppins, takes the stage this delightful adventure based on one of Disney's most popular movies. Purchase tickets online.

Cost: $25-$92

Where:
Raleigh Memorial Auditorium, Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts
2 E. South St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
View map »


Website »

More information

Take part in a count-down party leading up to the release of "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One & Two," a special rehearsal edition script book, which goes on sale July 31...

Cost: Free

Where:
Barnes & Noble
8030 Renaissance Parkway, Ste. 855
Durham, NC  27713
View map »


Telephone: 919-806-1930
Website »

More information

Take the family to enjoy a movie under the stars. Showtime is 8:30 pm. Arrive early as viewing space may be limited.

Cost: Free

Where:
E. Carroll Joyner Park
701 Harris Road
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Sponsor: Town of Wake Forest
Telephone: 919-556-7063
Contact Name: Lisa Jacobs
Website »

More information

Enjoy snacks and magical activities before "Harry Potter and The Cursed Child Parts I & II" is officially released at 12:01 a.m. on July 31.

Cost: Free

Where:
Flyleaf Books
752 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Sponsor: Flyleaf Books
Telephone: 919-942-7373
Contact Name: Cindy Sellars
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit Module

Magazine

Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module

Newsletter Sign-Up

Stay connected to what's going on for kids and families in the Triangle by signing up for our FREE e-newsletters!

Subscribe

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Directories

Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Annual Guides

Exceptional Child

Children with special needs face unique challenges. Find resources from A-Z in areas of advocacy, education, camps and therapies to support them as they grow.

GPS [Go. Play. See]

GPS is your guide to explore all the Triangle has to offer, from museum expansions to new parks and schools to youth sports and family fun. Plus, discover our 2016 Readers' Favorites.

Education Guide

The 2015-16 Education Guide offers 539 education resources in the Triangle, including local preschools, private schools, public school systems, charter schools, boarding schools and academic resources.